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Schmidt Family Breaks a Record

By Staff | Aug 9, 2016

The Schmidt Family of West Bend gathered for a massive family reunion at the Clay County Fairgrounds and Events Center in Spencer on Saturday and Sunday, July 30 and 31.

Their event reunited hundreds of cousins who all descend from a shepherd named Hans Schmidt who lived in proximity to the towns of Nentershausen and Machtlos, Germany in the late 1500s and early 1600s.

“Our event boasted a headcount of over 1,000, with 678 of those attendees having direct descent, by blood or marriage, from Hans Schmidt, the family patriarch,” said Josiah Schmidt, a professional family history researcher, and the lead organizer for the reunion. “This weekend, the Schmidts officially surpassed the 1980 Osterhaus Reunion at Dyersville, which had a total headcount of 900, as the largest family reunion in the history of the state of Iowa.”

Attendees at the Schmidt Family Reunion came from 31 states and 3 countries.

The families enjoyed authentic German food and drink, live German music, German language classes, German bingo, a marketplace of 30 crafters and vendors, a classic car show, carnival games, a German language church service, family history presentations, and a 21 foot written family tree that dominated one of the walls of the Events Center.

Josiah Schmidt says that this success only represents the beginning for his family: “We are already planning an even bigger reunion for just a few years from now. The record for largest family reunion in America is 2,500, and the record for largest family reunion in the world is about 4,500. We’ll aim to break one or both records the next time we reunite.”

The Schmidt Reunion was financially sponsored by the Clay County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Great Harvest Bread Company, Harris Financial Services, J&L Trucking, Kansas City Kreations, Morton Buildings, Schmidt Roofing, and TDJ Construction.